Montana Tourism 2019: Nonresident Spending Down, Visitor Numbers Up

MISSOULA – About 12.6 million nonresidents visited Montana in 2019 and spent around $3.6 billion in the Treasure State, according to preliminary estimates by the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana.

Two people stand with their backs to the camera looking at an alpine lake
About 12.6 million nonresidents visited Montana during the past year. (Photo by Rick and Susie Graetz)

The number of travelers visiting the state in 2019 appears to have increased slightly, up 2% compared to 2018. Despite the higher number of individual travelers, third quarter spending was down just over 1% compared to third quarter 2018. Slightly smaller group sizes, combined with shorter average stays in Montana, resulted in around a 2% decrease in total spending compared to 2018.

Visitor spending during 2019 supported an estimated 40,700 jobs directly and more than 56,000 jobs in total. Associated with those jobs is over $1.08 billion of labor income directly supported by nonresident spending.

An additional $602 million of labor income is indirectly supported by nonresident travel spending. These travelers contributed more than $222 million in state and local taxes in 2019.

These figures will be updated this spring, with the most recent fourth quarter data from 2019 replacing the 2018 fourth quarter data used in these early estimates. This preliminary report can be found at All information and reports published by ITRR are available online at


Contact: Kara Grau, assistant director of economic analysis, UM Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research, 406-243-5107,; Jeremy Sage, ITRR associate director, 406-243-5552,